For many people, the news forms an important part of the day. Whether it’s sports, politics, current affairs or simply gossip – human beings for the most enjoy hearing about the world around them. It’s a part of our lives and in some ways creates our very own real-life soap opera which develops every day. The stories link together because they’re part of our shared society and sometimes greatly effect our own lives.
Which is why if you move away from your home area and start watching the news in other areas it’s not quite the same. Even though you may have travelled to the new location, you watch the news with a slight sense of detachment simply because you have spent enough time in the area to belong.
When I used to travel a lot when I was younger in the 1980s, I used to spend ages searching for British newspapers. This was no easy task, although it could be done in most places across the world. Hotels were usually a good bet or shops in expats areas, you’d have little choice usually and the price would be marked up many times. What’s worse the paper would often be a few days out of date depending on how remote the location, Europe was mostly ok for the day after. Yet it was a link, to be able to stay connected to your ‘normal life’ at home while travelling.
Of course now it’s much easier, if you have access to the internet you don’t have that same sense of detachment. In fact you can pretty much live your life remotely in many senses, although it’s never a good idea to announce you’re travelling to much on social media. People who do this often return to find their home has been burgled! Yet you can keep up with all sorts of gossip and local news fairly easily with a laptop or tablet.
There is a drawback though, although most News and media companies stream their broadcasts online mostly they are inaccessible from other countries. It’s not a technical restriction but a restriction imposed by the broadcaster to prevent people watching abroad. For example watching the BBC news online is actually quite difficult outside the UK because it is blocked by the BBC.
There is a solution you need to use VPN or proxy servers to try and hide your real physical location. This works by obscuring your real IP address and presenting the VPN servers address instead. If the address happens to be linked to right country then you should be able to access the site as normal.
Can you imagine buying a fantastic new MP3 player whilst on holiday, perhaps you spotted a bargain in duty free or some custom electronics shop. Then when you come back from holiday the customs guy at the airport takes it off you because it wasn’t made in this country. It would be incredible, outrageous – the sort of hard line, protectionist move that even the worse run state countries would probably flinch from. yet this is effectively what happens in the digital market everyday.
A few years ago I decided to treat myself to a Netflix subscription, I was doing a lot of travelling which mostly involved staying in rather dull hotels on edges of industrial estates. It was rather boring and the TV channels in these hotels were usually fairly limited for the English speaker. Someone had shown me Netflix and I was blown away hundreds of TV shows with literally thousands of episodes perfect to while away a few evenings after work.
I was very pleased with my purchase until I started my travelling again and then the realisation set in. I thought I’d bought myself a subscription which I could take anywhere with me in the world, after all it was internet based. It turned out that I had actually bought a subscription service that MAY BE available depending on where I was located. In fact over 50% of the times it wouldn’t work at all, and if it did work it was some other countries variant of Netflix filled with foreign language films and invariably missing my favorite shows!
Now it has changed somewhat since then, a couple of months later Netflix pushed forward with a massive expansion to hundreds of other countries. I didn’t get the complete block but merely the different version of Netflix, however some of these were very short on content depending on which country you happened to be in.
It does illustrate the incredible difference between physical and digital goods. We buy access to something on the internet and think it will be available anywhere we go but that’s simply not true. Digital goods shouldn’t be affected by physical location but they are, often your service will only work in the country you bought it in. As millions have discovered while trying to access the BBC, this is what happens if you try and access the BBC iPLayer in Ireland for instance – http://bbciplayerabroad.co.uk/does-bbc-iplayer-work-in-ireland/ .
The European Union is trying to change all this, they realise for digital markets to develop for everyone we need to break these artificial barriers. A single market for the digital marketplace won’t be easy to achieve yet it is possible, legislation was being prepared to ensure that if you bought something online in one European country it will be accessible in all of them. The BBC was looking at implementing a user login to allow UK license fee payers to access the BBC iPlayer in any country for instance, unfortunately that might be delayed due to Brexit.